boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

South Carolina Boat Registration Summary

South Carolina boat registration summary is a free resource designed to inform the boating public about registration requirements, recording methods, and title search guidelines for the State of South Carolina. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing knowledge and experiences with this particular state. Simply click on the "Wiki-Share" link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.

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Boat Registration Agency South Carolina Boat RegistrationState of South Carolina
Department of Natural Resources

Boat Registration Website
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Registration Overview South Carolina issues both registrations and titles for all boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Department of Natural Resources in Columbia. This state also provides registrations and titles on outboard motors of 5hp or greater. Registration and titling are required for boat trailers weighing over 2,500 lbs. They are optional for those weighing less.
Sales or use tax applies to first time registrations and transfers of ownership. Boats are also subject to property tax.
There are approximately 534,726 boats registered in the State of South Carolina. This accounts for 4.5% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements South Carolina boat registration numbers begin with an "SC" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented boats along with registration sticker tabs. Coast Guard documented vessels may not display the state registration numbers. However they must display an owner designated vessel name and a hailing port. An official documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.
All boats manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "SCZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a South Carolina law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy with the hull identification number.
Registration Requirements South Carolina registration is required on all non-exempt motorized boats. Coast Guard vessels are not subject to registration. Other exemptions include windsurfers, watercraft, canoes, and kayaks propelled only by human power with oars, paddles or similar devices.
South Carolina has provisions conditional boat registrations when the boat was previously registered in South Carolina. when there is insufficient proof of ownership. in all other cases it will be necessary to petition a local court of law for an award of ownership.
Transfers of ownership must be reported to the registration office within 15 days.
Ownership and Liens South Carolina issues titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. This state has provisions for bonded titles on boats previously registered in South Carolina when there is insufficient proof of ownership. It will otherwise be necessary to petition a local court of law for an award of ownership.
Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Natural Resources. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or Coast Guard documented are recorded with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings.
Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records, recorded as UCC filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk's office. There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against state titled boats.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest must be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center and priority is attained according to the date filed. Other maritime liens can be filed in the same
Title Searches Boat title and registration records in South Carolina are maintained by the Department of Natural Resources. This agency does provide preliminary online title searches for the general public. Complete record printouts may be obtained by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that the registration office will check hull numbers by telephone and verify information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens however, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings nationwide.
Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for USCG documented vessels can be obtained by ordering an abstract of title and a copy of the certificate of documentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center. However, these are encoded and can be difficult to interpret, especially on older vessels with numerous recordings. It may be worthwhile to contact a professional vessel documentation company for assistance in this regard.
Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in South Carolina. These include liabilities for items such as services, equipment, fuel, storage, parts, supplies, and damages which can become attached to the boat itself regardless of ownership. One of the most useful tools for doing this kind of research is our premier boat history search database. It offers a gathering of eight nationwide databases into a single interface which can be searched by numerous criteria. These include records for stolen boats, marine lien claims, boating accidents, pollution incidents, auctioned boats, factory recalls, and documented vessels.
Resources Boat History Search Database
Preliminary Online Title Check
Boat Record Request Form
UCC Online Search
Public Record Vendors
National Vessel Documentation Center
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors South Carolina Department of Natural Resources


Visit our database page for the nation's premier boat history report with a full compliment of title search resources. Includes eight maritime databases all rolled into one convenient interface. A must-have service for any prospective buyer, marine lender, or maritime professional.


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